Find out how you can exercise your right to freedom of speech while upholding the University’s values – and what to do if someone has expressed an opinion which has made you feel unsafe.

Free speech when there’s war or global conflict

Everyone has a right to freedom of expression, within the law, including protest and dissent. The current situation in Israel and Palestine, and many other conflicts, create strong emotions and passionately held views, sometimes leading to disagreement in our community. Differing beliefs and positions, and how they are expressed on campus, makes some people concerned about their physical and psychological safety. The following outlines some considerations to help you make decisions about your rights and responsibilities in relation to freedom of speech. It is important that lawful opinion can be expressed and heard safely and we expect you to follow our principles below when exercising freedom of expression.

“We have challenged convention since the University’s foundation in 1961. From the campus’ modernist architecture on the edge of a rural national park, to our progressive academics and creative professional services staff, to the inspiring students who choose to learn and live here, to the very tone of the institution and the nature of its conversations, through to the expressions of radicalism, critical thinking and, at times, dissent.”

Treat others with dignity and respect

Dignity and respect at Sussex is everyone’s right and responsibility. You can read more about the University’s position in our Dignity and Respect policy.

Support each other to work towards mutual understanding, as we embrace diversity of background and belief at Sussex. Above all, we should demonstrate empathy and kindness towards each other, even more so at incredibly difficult times.

The safety, security, and wellbeing of all members of the University is our highest priority. The University will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism, harassment, or discrimination.

Be mindful of what you post on social media

Social media is part of social life, and harassment through social media is still harassment. Freedom of speech is important, at the same time there are some legal restrictions, particularly around incitement to hatred, prejudice and what are referred to as proscribed organisations.Public expressions of support for these can be unlawful. There can be serious implications for anyone who makes posts on social media about other students, or in relation to the situation in Israel and Palestine, or other conflicts, that cross legal boundaries or violate the University’s regulations. The University will take action where students engage in harassment or threatening behaviour towards other students or members of staff.

Our guiding principles

At the University of Sussex, we are committed to providing an inclusive, respectful, and supportive learning and working environment for our diverse and international community. We ensure that diversity of belief and opinion can be expressed and heard safely and legally, and facilitate dialogue between those with differing views. We are committed to advancing knowledge through rigorous, rational, evidenced argument and respectful discussion.

These commitments support our responsibility for academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law, and our determination to make Sussex a place in which everyone is able to flourish.

Find out more about our vision for Inclusive Sussex and see our commitment to freedom of speech.

What to do if you’ve been made to feel unsafe

We recognise that there may be some instances where our guiding principles are not followed and you, or someone you know feels unsafe. See the support available to you below.

Report an incident

If you’ve experienced a hate incident, discrimination, bullying or sexual violence, let us know using the Report and Support tool. If you have told us you’d like to speak with someone, we’ll be in touch. You can also report anonymously. This let us know about issues in our community, although we can’t usually follow up cases of anonymous reporting.

Report and Support also provides information about the issues people report, how this tool works, and further resources. In addition:

Antisemitic incidents can be reported to the Community Security Trust. Jewish Students can contact the Union of Jewish Students for support via their welfare hotline on 02074 243288.

You can report Islamophobic incidents to Tell MAMA, which offers a free counselling service that can be accessed via

Contact security

The University is generally a safe place and security patrol the campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, it is good to be aware of where to find help if you think that you or someone else is at risk.

Contact University security.

More support

If you have been affected by issues of conflict, see the support available to you.

On campus mental health support

You can get advice on any issue that may be affecting you. You can contact the Student Centre or use My Sussex to book an appointment to visit our friendly advisors.

You can also see group sessions and workshops run by our Therapeutic Services.

You may find the multi-faith Chaplaincy to be a useful resource, both as a welcoming space and in relation to specific services and staff.

Online mental health support

Free online mental health support is available for students by using Togetherall to explore your feelings in a safe and supportive environment at any time of the day. Register online with your Sussex email address to get started.

Financial support

If you are experiencing financial hardship, either as a result of recent events or due to other circumstances, find out about hardship support available.

Prevent Duty

The University has an obligation called the Prevent Duty and events at Sussex have to be evaluated in relation to this. This evaluation needs to be taken in the context of the right to freedom of expression, and protest and our approach to the Prevent Duty is proportionate to our locality and context. It is also underpinned by the values of equality and diversity which continue to inform our inclusive approach to the core activities of research, teaching and learning.

The Prevent Duty relates to pre-criminal matters and focuses on those deemed to be ‘vulnerable’ to being drawn into terrorism. The University has excellent support services and welfare procedures for when students or staff are struggling to cope. These procedures will be used, in the first instance, for handling cases of perceived vulnerability, whether this be related to personal issues or matters relating to the Prevent Duty. Find out how we are carrying out our statutory responsibilities under the Prevent Duty.